History- The Nucleus of the Future

The Nucleus of the Future Women’s Math was Opened by Sri Sarada Devi

16, Bose Para Lane On the 13th of November 1898, the very day after Sri Sarada Devi inaugurated the Belur Math for men, she inaugurated the School at 16 Bosepara Lane, Kolkata. On that occasion, Swami Vivekananda, Swami Brahmananda, the first President of the Order and Swami Saradananda, the first General Secretary of the Order, as well as two women devotees of Sri Ramakrishna, Yogin-Ma and Golap-Ma, were present. After she offered worship to Sri Ramakrishna, Holy Mother said, ‘I pray that the blessings of the Divine Mother of the Universe be upon this school, and the girls it shall train be ideal girls.’ Nivedita thought deeply on these words and wrote later, ‘I cannot imagine a grander omen than Her blessing, spoken over the educated Hindu womanhood of the future.’

The School started functioning from the 14th November. Initially, the people in the locality were reluctant to send their daughters to the School. Besides her work at the School, Nivedita was involved in many other activities including classes for Brahmacharis at Belur Math twice a week, public lectures, weekly teacher training classes for her Brahmo friends, writing books and articles, and conducting relief activities during the plague epidemic of 1899. Nivedita had to close down her School temporarily for lack of funds. She left for the West in June 1899 to collect funds for the School.

In 1900, she presented her ‘Project of Ramakrishna School for Girls’ to an American audience. With the help of friends in England and America, the ‘Ramakrishna Guild of Help’ was formed to financially support Nivedita’s School. She returned to India in 1902 and reopened the School in February. After her return from the West, Nivedita’s ideas took a different turn. She believed that what India needed first was political freedom and began to take an active interest in the freedom movement. Because of Nivedita’s change in direction, the cause of women suffered. Yet, Vivekananda’s dream continued to unfold under the care of Sister Christine Greenstidel, an American disciple.

Sister Christine, also an educationist, decided to start a project for a women’s section of Nivedita’s School. For the first time, women were allowed to attend the School to learn sewing, needlework, Bengali, history, arithmetic, English and Sanskrit whenever they were free from household duties. The Women’s Section became known as the Pura-Stree-Vibhaga. Sisters Christine and Nivedita worked together and when Nivedita passed away in 1911, the responsibility for the School was assumed by Sister Christine.